Model drawing not a substitute for algebra

The letter by Mrs Julia Sng (" 'Model drawing' method not an effortless solution"; Feb 21) epitomises the process-driven, assembly-line approach used in maths teaching in schools here.

She said more "steps and time" were needed to solve a problem using algebra and that it was a very abstract method, hence it was abandoned in favour of model drawing.

Virtually all the higher order problems the pupils solve involve finding an "unknown" under certain conditions, so how can the natural thinking process be anything but abstract?

Pupils find thinking through such problems difficult simply because the problems are too complex for their age.

Model drawing is not a substitute for algebra. It can be used only for a limited set of problems and has a life span till the end of the Primary School Leaving Examination maths paper.

Algebra teaches pupils the art of making leaps of imagination and thinking in generalities; it is the foundation for advanced maths, physics, programming and engineering.

One, however, needs teachers with a passion for and strong command of maths to teach it to primary school pupils.

Bobby Jayaraman